DEFENDANT TIME CHARTERER ENTITLED TO SUMMARY JUDGMENT BASED ON EXPRESS LANGUAGE OF TIME CHARTER
Keith BROWNING, Plaintiff, v. SAFMARINE, INC., Safmarine Container Lines N.V., Maersk Line, A.P. Moller-Maersk a/s, and A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, Defendants.
United States District Court, D. New Jersey.
Civil Action No. 11-2436. | Dec. 5, 2012.
This matter is before the Court on a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Safmarine, Inc., Safmarine Container Lines N.V., Maersk Line, A.P. MollerMaersk A/S, and A.P. Moller Maersk Group.
Plaintiff Keith Browning filed the Complaint to recover for personal injuries he suffered while working as a longshoreman for his stevedore-employer, Delaware River Stevedores, Inc., on board the M/V Safmarine Douala. Jaco Trader Shipping, Ltd. was purportedly the owner of the M/V Safmarine Douala at the time of Plaintiff’s accident, and also employed the ship’s crew. Plaintiff was assisting in the discharge of a cargo of cocoa beans while the vessel was berthed in the port of Camden, New Jersey, when he fell, sustaining injuries. Defendants removed the matter, citing the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. § 905(b). Defendants move for summary judgment arguing that there is no evidence that they breached any duty of care owed to the longshoremen working on the M/V Safmarine Douala on the day of Plaintiff’s fall. Specifically, moving Defendants have argued that they had no involvement in the alleged incident that forms the basis of Plaintiff’s suit. Apparently, on the evening of March 13, 2008, Plaintiff was sitting with fellow longshoremen on a pipe on the deck of the M/V Safmarine Douala, waiting for the vessel’s crew to finish cleaning the dunnage out of the vessel’s hold, when an unidentified member of the ship’s crew kicked Plaintiff’s feet out from underneath him, causing him to fall backward and sustain injuries. Defendant Safmarine Container Lines N.V. has stated that it was merely the time charterer of the M/V Safmarine Douala, it did not employ the ship’s crew and had no personnel on the ship on the day of the alleged incident. A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S is the ultimate parent corporation of Safmarine Container Lines N.V. Defendants Maersk Line and A.P. Moller-Maersk Group are allegedly merely trade names for A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, not legal or business entities capable of suit. Defendant Safmarine was merely the time charterer of the M/V Safmarine Douala pursuant to the terms and conditions of a time charter party. There is no evidence in the record that Safmarine Container Lines N.V. expressly assumed operational control of the M/V Safmarine Douala. Further, Safmarine Container Lines N.V. did not employ the ship’s crew and had no personnel on the ship on the day of the alleged incident. A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S is the ultimate parent corporation of Safmarine Container Lines N.V. A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S was never an owner or charterer of the M/V Safmarine Douala. Additionally, for the same reasons that Safmarine Container Lines N.V. is entitled to summary judgment, so is A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S-this entity did not employ the ship’s crew and had nothing to do with the incident that caused Plaintiff’s injury. Defendants Maersk Line and A.P. Moller-Maersk Group are merely trade names for A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, not legal or business entities capable of suit. Accordingly, the record makes clear that Plaintiff is unable to establish a prima facie case against any of the moving Defendants and, as such, they are entitled to summary judgment. Indeed, clause 26 of the charter party provides, “Nothing herein stated is to be construed as a demise of the vessel to the Time Charterers. The owners to remain responsible for the navigation of the vessel, acts of pilots, tug boats, lines men, insurance, crew, and all other matters as when trading for their own account.” Further, pursuant to clause 51, Jaco, as Owner, would be required to “indemnify Charterers for personal accidents or injuries sustained by any person on board or about the vessel, unless caused by the act, negligence, default of the charterers, their servants or agents.” “[I]t is well-settled admiralty law that absent an agreement to the contrary, the time charterer has no control over the vessel and assumes no liability for negligence of the crew.”
Summary Judgment was entered.
DISTRICT COURT COMPELLED ARBITRATION OF SEAFARER’S JONES ACT CLAIMS WHERE CRUISE LINE STIPULATED TO APPLICATION OF U.S. LAW AND A U.S. VENUE, FINDING THAT THIS RULING “HARMONIZED” THE POLICY FAVORING ARBITRATIONS AND THE POLICY OF TREATING SEAFARERS AS WARDS OF THE ADMIRALTY COURTS
Anthony YUZWA v. M/V OOSTERDAM, et al.
United States District Court, C.D. California.
No. CV 12-2663-CAS (AJWx). | Dec. 17, 2012.
Defendant Holland America Line “HAL” filed its Motion to compel arbitration of Plaintiff’s Jones Act Negligence claim.
Plaintiff, a Canadian citizen, was hired to work as a performer aboard the M/V Oosterdam cruise ship. Once plaintiff was hired to work on the vessel, he signed the Seagoing Employment Agreement (“SEA”) that HAL filed in support of its motion. According to the terms of this agreement, plaintiff agreed that any “wage disputes, property damage, personal injury, death, or any other claim … shall be governed in all respects by the Laws of the British Virgin Islands.” Plaintiff further agreed that “all such disputes no matter how described, pleaded or styled, shall be resolved by binding arbitration pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards … exclusively in your country of citizenship, or if your home country is not a party to the Convention, then in Seattle, Washington.” No party disputes that Canada is a signatory to the Convention, and therefore that any arbitration that is effectuated pursuant to the SEA would take place in Canada, under British Virgin Islands law. While on board the vessel rehearsing for a performance, plaintiff alleges that he was severely injured when a stage lift/riser crushed his right foot and toes. As a result of the accident, plaintiff had his big toe, second toe, and parts of his fourth and fifth toes amputated. Id. Plaintiff brings claims for: (1) Jones Act negligence; (2) unseaworthiness; (3) maintenance and cure; (4) negligence under general maritime law; (5) strict products liability; (6) breach of warranty. Defendant HAL filed a motion to compel arbitration and offered to stipulate to arbitration in Los Angeles with a mutually-agreed upon arbitrator, limited discovery, and application of U.S. maritime law. Based on HAL’s stipulation, the Court found that referring the matter to arbitration in the United States, under U.S. law, best harmonized the “emphatic” policy favoring arbitration with Congress’s special solicitude for seaman as a protected class.
The Court granted defendant HAL ‘s motion to compel arbitration of the claims asserted against it. Such arbitration shall apply U.S. maritime law to plaintiff’s claims and take place in Los Angeles, California or other mutually-agreed upon location.